It takes ages and is accompanied by some very un-Mario guitar music. Decent human players should be able to make plenty of saves, but fatigue takes its toll and mistakes will creep in when the balls start flying faster and faster. Against the computer, the number of goals scored depends on how perfectly you hit those orange zones.
With such a powerful move at your disposal, ordinary goals seem of little importance. Never mind that the rarity value of beating the keeper without fully charging any kind of special move makes an “open play” goal something to treasure. You could score four or five of them in a game, if you’re highly skilled, and still lose to an opponent who managed to wind up one or two mega strikes. It’s totally unbalanced. If anything, ordinary goals should count double, and special moves only half.
Power-ups are awarded for being fouled when not in possession of the ball, which happens all the time - especially in a four-player game. Shells, turbo mushrooms, invincibility and numerous others can be used by any player on the pitch. Special captain moves can only be used by the main character, and have a specific effect on each one. Mario grows big, Yoshi rolls a giant egg, and Wario farts out clouds of toxic gas that leave the opposition gagging and cursing his name.
There are 12 one-off challenges that require victory while fulfilling certain conditions. Beat these and you earn cheats that turn off the more outrageous moves, although you won’t have too many 25-24 thrillers without them. It’s definitely more enjoyable with the specials left on, but the relentless nature of the power-up-riddled matches, coupled with environmental hazards that electrify the fields and generally make smooth progress even tougher than it is, mean Mario Strikers is best played in short doses. It doesn’t take long for it to outstay its welcome - we found we needed regular cooling-off periods.